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What Your Shitty Music Taste Says About You

By Ryan Bassil

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I’ve got a problem. In fact, I’ve got several. I’m unable to afford my rent, I cannot cook more than three variations of a carbohydrate-based meal, and I really need to change the sheets on my bed (AKA The Worst Chore Ever). But that isn’t my biggest problem. 
 
Instead, my biggest problem is that it has become really difficult to judge people. I’m sure that everyone can relate to this because it’s built into the human starter pack of emotion to subconsciously evaluate another human based on their shoes, hair situation and how they represent themselves in 140 characters. That, and a bunch of other shitty reasons that are entirely baseless from the unimportant characteristic of personality. Everyone is a bitch. It’s just that some people choose to confine their inner snark to a voice that lives inside their brain. Others leave it in the comment section.
 
In 2013, painting a judgemental preconceived opinion of someone based solely on the music that they listen to is really hard. Your boy may be drawing on that Blue Cheese at the A$AP Ferg show tonight, but tomorrow he’ll be dropping at the Kompakt Boiler Room, and by Saturday he’ll be drinking Merlot and mulling over the semantics of Arcade Fire’s contemporary release.
 
Stereotypes are hard to categorise, and it’s really starting to bug me. So, I’ve created this handy guide to hating everyone. It’s filled with new types of people so we can seamlessly return back to the hobby of cruel and shallow typecasting.
 
THE WEB 2.0 WARRIOR
 
I’m having a hard time trying to identify these people. Two years ago, they were busy jizzing over Ed Sheeran’s SBTV freestyle, a year ago, they were riding on a kush coma into cloud rap based banality, and now, they won’t stop sharing videos from the Majestic Casual YouTube channel. They’re unavoidable in the sense that you’ll never see them out in the wild, but they’ll somehow become a subtle but constant irritant on your social networking feed like newborn baby instagrams...or herpes. Like bedroom producers, these hibernating knob twiddlers sit inside their house all day. But instead of making their own music, they reblog other people’s work, replacing Ableton with a relevant open-source blogging platform.
 
These are the people who think that the Cyril Hahn version of “Losing You” sounds better than Solange’s consummate original, because “it’s a remix”. Essentially, if a mediocre track receives the Ryan Hemsworth treatment and is partnered up with a static image of a desaturated, over-contrasted portrait of a female, then these guys will lap it up like it’s the best thing to happen to music since the last time something was popular. They’ll tell you that they “can’t wait to see Kerri Chandler tonight, she’s the best DJ I’ve ever heard” in an attempt to wash away the fact that four years ago, they were busy stitching their life into the template of The xx and bedroom R&B. They’ll hide their lack of personal taste behind a Ritalin and Wikipedia taught knowledge of Danish deep house that they’ll insist on slathering all over the Facebook timeline just to make sure that everyone is clear on their preferences.
 
They’re all lying, of course. The majority secretly love to listen to the Disclosure on repeat, but instead force themselves into eye rolling at the lamestream and anything with a 140bpm kick pattern in the distant hope that it might make a girl they once met at Boiler Room sleep with them. They’re the reason that house music has bred a new lease of life, fathered by parents who think that Paul Oakenfold was once a presenter on Soccer AM.
 
 
THE LOST SOUL
Once upon an Underage Festival, The Maccabees were the choice band of every GCSE student who had just discovered metrosexuality in the changing room of Beyond Retro. They were the go-to-band for Year 12s who were still struggling to breathe beneath their newly buttoned up shirts. But that halcyon era has passed, and now all that’s left are The Lost Souls. While everyone else is busy comparing new strands of MDMA and discussing their favourite techno BPM, The Lost Souls are still meandering, liquorice papered cigarette in hand, toward Arcadia. They’re split into two divisions. The first, under 18, are latched on to the ideal of angst, desperately trying to impress their older brothers, despite the fact that said brothers cashed in their Libertine jacket years ago for a job at the Department of Work and Pensions. The second, over 30, have a distorted version of what “real” music is, laid down to them by Paul Weller, Virgin Radio, and whatever Conor McNicholas thought was cool in 2008. To them, Jake Bugg is not a joke, and the mods will rise again. 
 
Over time, though, societal pressures and the rationing of good guitar bands to one a year means they’ve been forced to have at least a basic understanding of Kanye West and whatever other artist the New Musical Express has deemed worthy of finally reporting on. They’ll nod along when they come on the stereo, but deep down they think Kanye is “just a bloke talking really loudly over a distorted instrumental” and secretly refuse to acknowledge anything that can’t be easily produced by a middle-class white male on a Yamaha acoustic. These people are lost, trying hamfistedly to resurrect a culture that has left them behind. At times, they’ll try to keep up, steadfastly wallowing at the back of a Flying Lotus set, or on Comment Sections, trying to pick apart Kendrick’s “Control” verse, but in reality they’d probably much rather be listening to Good Shoes debut record (which is my favourite landfill indie record, of all time).
 
THE BANTER BUS BRIGADIER
Despite not knowing a single thing about music beyond what Oceana Kingston plays on a weekday night, these guys will commandeer the pre-drinks playlist like a government-funded dictator of the iPod dock. I’ve tried to engage them, hopefully sticking on Cam’Ron’s “Hey Ma” only to have the party DJ privileges revoked like I’d just taken a sloppy dump on the floor. Instead, the vibe is to create a realisation of the Laganas Strip lived through a Glens vodka lifestyle in a cultureless town. It sounds depressing, but for those few hours, this is the Brigadier's heaven.
 
The music will be played loud, and it will sound the same, always. But these guys don’t care. They listen to Avicii on the bus, Guetta in the morning, and Tiesto in the library. It’s not all about supporting the Forbes rich list though. Each time a deep house night comes to town, Resident Advisor tickets will be purchased, two substances will be bombed, and post-drinks will be attended. The house night serves as a vacation, a £10 walk-on-ticket into a culture beyond “White Noise” and a world that existed long before it. It’s a slight crossover into the pedestrian culture of The Web 2.0 Warrior. But the difference is that these guys also have secret playlists on Spotify made up of Hobbie Stuart and Ben Howard that they use for masturbating and ironing. 
 
THE FAME OBSESSED FAN
The modern day equivalent of the pop music fan is the Buzzfeed reader. Unlike the pop fans of past, The Buzzfeed Reader digests smash hit singles on the basis of their staying power in meme culture. Because, hey, if a song can’t be translated into an instantly shareable, tenuously related Photoshop job and pithy caption LOL then it can go fuck itself. These people are easy to spot, because they’re literally fucking everywhere. Look around the room and I bet my Tesco Reduced Meal Deal that you’ll spot one. They look normal, but inside they breathe mid 2000 pop references, official soundtracks, and whatever @perpetua has told them to commemorate that week. They will refuse all the drugs that you offer them. Unless they’re at Wireless, then maybe they’ll have a balloon.
 
THE HIP-HOP TRUTHERS
 
If there is one thing that I have learnt from clicking things on the internet, it’s that the writer is wrong about everything, and the internet is right about everything. A certain breed exists, flippantly disregarding the definition of opinion, in the name of their factual definition on taste. These are the people who declare the new Drake album as trash before they’ve even listened to it. Or comment directly on an article with something like, “DIDN’T READ THE ARTICLE BUT THIS IS BULLSHIT” or “TERRIBLE JOURNALISM. CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DIDN’T INCLUDE [Any rapper that’s briefly made the front page of DatPiff before being plunged into obscurity]?”
 
They’re split into two factions. The first, have been born into an age of floral 5 panels and free booze events at pop-up streetwear shops. They always want more, believing that artists owe them something and better “leak their new record ASAP before they fall off”. I think they’re bi-polar, because on the internet they usually talk in ALL CAPS, act brash, and call everyone a faggot. But IRL, in the queue for the rap show, they silently concentrate on their smartphone screens texting their mother what First Capital Connect train they’ll be taking back to Wimbledon.
 
The second faction were born when the internet was just an expensive idea. They usually have a concrete refusal to appreciate anything to the same degree that they appreciated Rakim, Eazy E, Ghostface annnnd ad infinitum. Whatever you’re talking about, it’s not as good as DOOM. 
 
 
THE LOYAL EMO KID
IDK, they only come out of hibernation when bands like Black Veil Brides come to town :(
 
THE DROWNED IN SOUND PONCE
 
More self-preservative than The Lost Souls, they are above caring about Justin Young from The Vaccines new supergroup (which is really just a group). In between ATP Festivals, they can be found on Twitter trying to moralise something really trivial, literally trying to Dementor music until everything sounds like The National. If you spot one outside of the realm of avatars, look for the key signs: a vacant stare coupled with an outfit that wouldn’t be out of place at The Birmingham Librarians Annual General Meeting, or your student bed the night after you got especially pissed up with your Marxist discussion group. If they’re out of the house and MØ, Torres or The Independent Label Market aren’t in town, then expect to see them oscillating at whatever club night Giles Peterson has recommended.
 
Their music taste is not confined to genre, but simply tastemaking. If it’s been featured on The Quietus, or highlighted as “pick of the week” at Rough Trade East, then it is good, but it could be better. If there is a piece of conceptual artwork, feminist foundation, or intricate songwriting that Marc Riley would appreciate, then again, it is good. If it sounds like Autre Ne Veut, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or any other band that has played at Field Day, then it is good. Essentially, even if they won’t admit to it, it is the stamp-print of an independent organisation that contributes to an artist’s popularity within this knitted community. They are the reason Har Mar Superstar won the NME Rockstar of The Year award in 2006, and they’re the reason that Arcade Fire can put out another piece of extraneous photocopy-paper boring trash, but still be labelled as a revolutionary tour-de-force. These people are really boring, but if you can handle being lectured on music, they will maybe share their drugs with you. 
 
THE ARTIST OBSESSED FAN
 
The Fan has been around ever since “She Loves you” reduced Shea Stadium to a bawling mess. But these days, they exist only on the internet. Although primarily dedicated to separate factions owned by the Buzzfeed Reader – Directioners, Monsters, Beliebers, Swifties – the Fan Boy/Girl has branched out into rogue sections lead by Tyler, The Creator, Kanye West and just about anyone else that has ever referred to their fans with a collective namesake. These people are dangerous. They won’t hurt you in real life. But they will threaten to bake their cat into a  soufflé if you don’t follow them back.
 
THE MAN ON ROAD
Remember when that girl in Mean Girls told the other girl in Mean Girls to stop trying to “make fetch happen”? Well, this is me telling Provincial Mans to stop trying to “make grime happen”. Grime has had its golden era, it was fucking amazing, and now everyone who was ever worth a shit is rich, or still not bothering to turn up to interviews. But regardless, these guys will pontificate on their social network about their love for pure British music only. It doesn’t matter if it’s Scrufizzer, Ghetts, or a dubstep song made outside of Croydon, these guys will chat breeze on anything #UKmusic. Always ~on road~, the Provincial will drive around in a clapped out Honda Civic, bunning a biffta while on the A6 to the local Londis to buy some munch. But they’ll front like they’re popping Moet in the back of a Range on the way to a “rave” and insist on talking about their polite Slough upbringing like they were raised in the slums of Soweto.
 
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanBassil
 
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